(Updated with brief comment from Pendleton)
Now that Tony LaRussa surprisingly has decided to retire as St. Louis manager, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals place a phone call to Braves coach Terry Pendleton.
Pendleton for a time was considered a candidate to replace the eventually retiring Bobby Cox — before Fredi Gonzalez became available. He spent the first seven seasons of his major league career in St. Louis. He is liked and respected by players. He’s a leader. He certainly showed that on the field as a player with the Cardinals and the Braves. His acquisition was key in the Braves going to the World Series in 1991, his first season in Atlanta.
Pendleton told our Carroll Rogers that he has not yet been contacted by anybody in the organization. (She will be posting a blog later today.)
Pendleton had his critics as a hitting coach. General manager Frank Wren obviously was one of them, as evidenced by Pendleton getting demoted after the 2010 season. (He was kept as first base coach, and Wren hired Larry Parrish as a replacement. To say that didn’t turn out so well would be an understateent.)
But he has long been considered a managerial candidate in baseball, including getting mentioned as a possible successor to LaRussa before the Cardinals’ manager decided to come back for the 2011 season.
I also don’t believe somebody’s success or failure as a hitting coach determines whether or not somebody will be a successful manager. Pendleton understands players, personalities and the game of baseball as well as anybody.
The “Hardball Talk” blog on NBCSports.com already has listed Pendleton as a candidate in St. Louis, along with Terry Francona (just fired from Boston), Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, hitting coach Mark McGwire and third base coach Jose Oquendo. Their synopsis of Pendleton:
Terry Pendleton: The Braves’ first base coach and former hitting coach who, obviously, had a lot of time in St. Louis. He’s always been tremendously popular with Braves players since he began coaching and could be a good choice if the Cards are looking to keep a happy team happy. Worth noting also that, when he was removed as the Braves hitting coach, the Braves hitting went into the toilet. The man obviously has some skills.
So we’ll see how this unfolds. Until then, what are your thoughts on Pendleton as a manager?
By Jeff Schultz